Sandy Curtis lives on Queensland’s Central Coast, not far from the beach where she loves to walk and mull over the intricate plots in her novels. Her husband says he doesn’t know how she keeps it all in her head, and her friends think she must be far more devious than she appears.
Actually, after having dealt with the chaos involved in rearing three children, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and a kookaburra (teaching it to fly was murder), creating complex characters, fast-paced action and edge-of-your-seat suspense is a breeze for Sandy.
At fourteen she wrote a story about a pickpocket who steals a wallet from an off-duty cop. To make sure her details were authentic, she wrote to Police Headquarters asking them about fingerprints. Her mother received a phone call wanting confirmation the query was genuine, and as Sandy hadn’t told her about the letter (or the story), she nearly had a heart attack thinking her daughter was in trouble with the law.
Sandy’s query resulted in an invitation to tour Police Headquarters with her teacher and several schoolfriends and meet the Police Commissioner. That’s when she learned that although the pen might be mightier than the sword, it does nothing to imbue self-confidence in an extremely nervous fourteen-year-old who had to shake the hand of Queensland’s top cop.
“All my pocket money and birthday money went on purchasing books,” Sandy says. “I devoured them. My aunt and uncle used to let me borrow their Saturday Evening Post (American version) and Reader’s Digest. In one Saturday Evening Post I read a story called “The Answer” by Philip Wylie, about a nuclear explosion which kills an angel and the Defence Force’s efforts to prove it was ‘really an alien being’. I was so impressed with the story I decided that one day I would become a story-teller like Philip Wylie.”
Interviewers often ask Sandy to describe her normal writing day. “Normal is when the chaos in my life subsides to frantic rather than frenzied. I once told a friend that I must have a chaos attractor glued on my forehead and she said that creativity hovers on the edge of chaos, to which I replied that I’d long ago fallen off the edge into the middle.”
Her various occupations, from private secretary to assistant to a Bore Licensing Inspector, as well as hitch-hiking around New Zealand and learning to parachute, have given Sandy lots of people and research skills. It’s the paperwork going feral in her office she has trouble with.